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Breeze-Courier employees take IPA honors

(BLOOMINGTON) — During the annual Illinois Press Association’s convention held in Bloomington on Thursday, the Breeze-Courier’s Laurie Sparling was named the state’s Advertising Sales Representative of the Year. The award was presented to her by Kim Paisley-Jones, the Breeze-Courier general manager. The award was a total surprise to Laurie. While the newspaper staff was aware of her winning, she was not aware until the award was presented to her.
(Kim Paisley-Jones/Breeze-Courier Photos)

BLOOMINGTON, ILL. — Illinois’ top newspapers were honored Thursday, June 8, 2023 at the Illinois Press Association’s annual convention at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Bloomington. Nearly 100 daily and non-daily newspapers competed in 38 editorial categories. Members of the Iowa Press Association judged the contest. The Illinois Press Association, located in Springfield, represents the interests of approximately 400 newspapers.

The Breeze-Courier earned three 1st Place Awards and two 2nd Place awards, along with Laurie Sparling taking home the top honor as Advertising Sales Representative of the Year.

Elyse Clayton

Breeze-Courier employees taking home top honors were Elyse Clayton in the Feature Photo Category. Elyse is a student Stephens College in Columbia, MO majoring in Communication Design. Clayton has been a summer intern for three years at the Breeze-Courier and has been instrumental in learning all aspects of the newspaper business, writing feature stories, taking award winning photographs and even learning how to operate the press this year! Clayton also earned a 2nd place award for the Local Editorial Category for her editorial stories about Roe V. Wade.

Tavia Leach

Tavia Leach earned top honors in the Community Service Category for her story about Brewin’ Hope in Pana. Leach has been employed with the Breeze-Courier for approximately one year and covers the local school board meetings, city council meetings, as well as writing feature stories and community news.

Kim Paisley-Jones

Kim Paisley-Jones also earned top honors for her series of stories in the Business/Economic Reporting Category titled “Behind Closed Doors”, where she showcased several local businesses and entrepreneurs in Taylorville; namely Doc Durham who purchased the old One East Building and is refurbishing it, Florinda Guerriero, owner of Florinda’s Pizza Ristorante Italiano, and Cindy Frisina, CEO for Heartland Development Partners, Inc.. Paisley-Jones is the General Manager and Advertising Director for the Breeze-Courier and has been employed there since 2015.

Long-time employee, Laurie Sparling, was named the Advertising Sales Representative of the Year. Sparling has been employed with the Breeze-Courier for 24 years, starting her career in graphic design in 1999. Sparling was nominated for the prestigious award for her dedication to the advertising side of the business.

“Laurie has been instrumental in so much of what we do in the newsroom and advertising department. She can always be counted upon to help out in any capacity. She is the quiet force behind everything, and is certainly so valuable to our organization. We are all very happy for Laurie and this award. She is so deserving of this, and we couldn’t be more proud of her,” said Paisley-Jones.

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